The most popular question we get up at the Co-op Corner is what is kombucha?
Well, kombucha is a fermented tea that can be flavored with a variety of fruits and spices. It's low in sugar and caffeine, high in probiotics, and can easily be made and continuously brewed at home.
Tea + Water + Sugar + Scoby = Kombucha
Wait. What's a scoby? Honestly, it's a bit disgusting to look at, but a scoby (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) is a culture that will transform your sugary tea into something tangy and effervescent.
We get our kombucha from Bloom Ferments, a company in Grand Rapids, and sell it on tap at the Kalamazoo Farmers Market and PFC Natural Grocery and Deli. It's an amazing and refreshing drink on a hot market day, but if you've become addicted like me you might want to give making it on your own a try. If not, bring your own cup to the Co-op Corner and we'll give you $.50 off!
4 quart stock pot
1 gallon jar
1 thin cloth and rubber band
1 mesh strainer, or tea ball
4, 750 ml swing top bottles (or similar)
2 tablespoons loose leaf tea
*alternatively, 8 tea bags, but lets keep this waste free
1 cup white sugar
14 cups water
2 cups unpasteurized, plain kombucha
*buy one online, make your own, or find a friend with one
Fruits and herbs (for flavoring)
Tea: You can use any tea (black, white, green, oolong), so long as it does not contain oils. Check the ingredients and opt for one with only tea leaves- no natural flavors- which could contain oils.
Sugar: Some people have concerns about white sugar, but you must use sugar, no substitutes. It will feed the scoby, and the finished product will not contain much sugar in the end.
Metal: Try to avoid prolonged contact with metal. It will eventually weaken the scoby.
Pausing your brew: If you're going to be gone for a few weeks or want a break, you can always make a batch and let it sit. The brew will become too vinegary to drink, but the scoby will be fine. If you will be gone longer than a few weeks, you can place the scoby in a few cups of kombucha in the fridge. After one month, place the scoby in a fresh jar of kombucha.
Scoby: If your scoby turns black or forms mold, throw it out and start again. The brown stringy bits that form under the scoby are fine, as it is apart of the process. The scoby will grow, so every once in a while peel off the bottom layers and throw them in the compost or give them to a friend.
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